Small turnout at
ex-TRT party protest
Former members of the defunct Thai Rak Thai party gathered to protest
against the government in Lamphun province.
Organizers had expected up to 20 thousand supporters to show up but the turn
out was less than expected when only about 3,000 gathered in a peaceful
Government officials, military personnel from the Special l task force of
the 7th Infrantry Regiment and police were present during the gathering to
ensure the protest would remain orderly.
The rally leaders included Veera Musikapong, Jakrapob Penkae, Juttuporn
Promphan, Natthawut Saikua were also among the 20 former TRT party members
from the Northern and the Northeastern regions including Surapong
Tovichakchaikul, the former TRT for Chiang Mai who also supported the
Chiang Mai hotel
occupancy rates plunge
Thai Hotels Association vice-president, Mr. Prakit
Chinamourphong, announced that the average occupancy rate at Chiang Mai
hotels during the first five months of this year had plunged to around 30
per cent. Some hotels in the city even suffered single digit occupancy
The news of the low occupancy rates came as Dr. Suvit Yodmani, the Tourism
Minister met with leading Chiang Mai hoteliers urge him and his ministry to
develop and promote the tourism image of the city as a high-end tourist
destination, highlighting its time honored Lanna culture and erasing its
past reputation as a backpackers’ haunt.
Dr. Suvit met with general managers and representatives from leading Chiang
Mai hotels such as Four Seasons Resort, Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi,
Holiday Inn and the soon-to-open Shangri-La Hotel.
Chiang Mai hoteliers said they were on hand to support and cooperate with
all tourism development and marketing projects launched by the tourism
ministry in order to turn Chiang Mai into a quality destination, and as a
result enable the city to attract more high-end tourists.
According to one long time hotelier, stronger international marketing
efforts need to be developed to attract more tourism to the area on a year
round basis. He added that the many tourist organizations in the city who
market Chiang Mai independently should unite to create an all encompassing
campaign to promote Chiang Mai to the world as a destination for all walks
of life, not just high end tourists.
Historically hotels and tourist related businesses have depended on the
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and their marketing campaigns to attract
visitors to Thailand. This year Phuket and Koh Samui have enjoyed a surge in
tourist business while Chiang Mai has seen a decline in numbers.
Chiang Mai hotels and tourism related businesses suffered greatly during
March and April this year when fires polluted the skies of the city forcing
thousands of would be tourists to cancel their visit to the city.
Dr. Suvit said he plans to visit the Chiang Mai in the middle of this month
to obtain greater knowledge of the destination and get a first-hand account
of issues facing the tourism industry here, such as the urgent need to have
a dedicated convention center and the need to attract more international
direct flights. CMM Reporters/TTG
Royal Floral Expo reopens on
3rd of August
The majestic Hor Kham Luang
pavilion will be one of the highlights at the Royal Flora Expo that re-opens
The Royal Flora Expo will finally re-open its gates in
August according to Maitree Yaowarat, Director of Royal Floral Expo.
The Hor Kham Luang pavilion will be highlighted as one of the grandest
attractions of the park that has been closed to the public since last
January, said Yaowarat.
As preparations are under way for the re-launch to welcome back the general
public, the agencies responsible for oversight and management have been
According to Director Maitree, who has been officially appointed by the
Department of Agriculture, the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural
Cooperatives, together with other agricultural officials will jointly
operate the 470 rai of land.
The Director added that during the past few months’ workers have been busy
improving many of the sites where guest countries had built, planted and
maintained their floral exhibitions during the original run of the event.
It is also expected that the well known and attractive Netherlands’s tulip
garden will be in full bloom in November as well as other impressive floral
More trees have been planted to beautify the grounds and several of the
buildings have been renovated.
The improvement work is about 90 percent complete and on target to be
finished by next month. The gardens will be cared for by 30 agricultural
officials and 40 security guards.
The park will also serve as a multi-purpose event area as the Ministry of
Commerce along with other agencies have planned to organize the OTOP SELLECT
2007 fun-fair the last week of July to promote local businesses in Chiang
The fair which will include high quality OTOP products have been selected
from throughout the country to be sold at the floral exhibition. CMM
Australian police donate
computers to CM Police
Australian police senior
liaison officer Mark McKiernan hands over two computers to the Chiang Mai
Human Trafficking Suppression Office.
In a joint effort to combat human trafficking the Region 5 Police office and
members of the Australian Federal police gathered at a seminar to exchange
knowledge and exchange ideas at a recent seminar.
The seminar organizers invited legal experts and minorities and human rights
organizations to participate as speakers. Human trafficking is still
prevalent in the Northern provinces with traffickers transporting women and
children who end up working in illegal trade such as prostitution. The
problem areas continue to be the areas of Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Fang, Chiang
Dao, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son.
Police Major Gen. Phanthuwat Srivalai said that the seminar was organized to
provide knowledge to human trafficking suppression officers and the methods
they employ to avoid arrest.
The police are coordinating with neighboring districts of Chiang Mai and
working to educate the authorities on better detection methods to suppress
Mr. Mark McKiernan, Senior liaison officer of the Australian Federal Police
in Chiang Mai praised the Thai police for their efficiency and speed in
handling many of the human trafficking cases. The Australian Federal Police
also donated two computers to assist the Chiang Mai Human Trafficking
Suppression Office with their ongoing efforts.
Media up in arms against national security bill
Thailand’s media has petitioned Prime Minister Gen.
Surayud Chulanont against planned legislation to impose additional internal
security measures in addition to the emergency rule and martial law which
have already been imposed.
Representatives of a broad spectrum of media organizations, including the
Thai Journalists Association, the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, a
human rights group and several former senators called on Gen. Surayud to
never endorse such a security-keeping bill, arguing that it would otherwise
deprive the Thai people of their basic human rights and freedom of
The bill, if passed into law, empowers the army chief who will automatically
serve as head of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) to order
his assigned officers to carry out searches of any suspect’s residence and
to impose a ban on people’s gathering in public places under any situation
that is deemed sensitive to security.
The bill, approved by the cabinet in June, is being scrutinized by the
Council of State, the government’s legal advisory body.
The premier said that he was willing to listen to differing point of views
to revise the bill to accommodate their concerns.
Gothom Arya, member of the National Legislative Assembly, planned to open a
public hearing at Parliament this week to discuss the controversial
Thai Airways increases fuel surcharge
Thai Airways International (THAI) announced that it will
apply new rates to their fuel surcharge on tickets which went into effect
last July 15th in line with rising global fuel prices.
Wallop Bhukkanasut, THAI Executive Vice President for Commercial Affairs
said the new rate will be applied to all routes operated by the national
flag carrier. This will reflect in tickets issued by local and international
ticketing agencies worldwide.
The new rates for certain routes such as flights between Bangkok and
Auckland, Bangkok and New York and Los Angeles will carry an additional US
$10.00 surcharge. TNA
CCTV leads police to arrest
gang of alleged thieves
Gang targeted gas stations in Chiang Mai and Lamphun
The youngest one is only 15 years old and the oldest is
23. The gang made up of six where caught on camera holding up a PTT gas
station in Lamphun at gunpoint when their thieving ways came to an end.
Lamphun police traced the robbery on video from a close circuit television
camera and were able to detain the six alleged criminals.
Police Lt. General Kittithat Ruenthip, Commissioner of Provincial Police
Bureau, Region 5, and Pol Maj Gen Nathanon Singhara na Ayuthaya, Commander
of Lamphun Provincial Police held a press conference to announce the arrest
of the gang members.
The police said the gang members were accused of robbing the PTT gas station
in Lamphun, and all the suspects Nathapong Kam-aie, 22, Natthawut Burikham,
23, Somkid Boonju, 23, Prasit Kanthiya, 18, Ke, 17, Bird, 17 and Dream, 15
years old were all charged with robbery.
They were in the possession of a shotgun, a 38 caliber pistol, 22 rounds of
ammunition, four motorcycles and walkie-talkie radios along with 15 other
The police said that on June 27 two of the culprits used pistols to rob
money from the attendants at PPT Gas Station in Tambon Muang-nga, Muang
During police questioning all the suspects confessed to their crimes and
admitted they also had committed robberies in Chiang Mai. Thai News
Japanese tourist arrested for snatching wristwatch
Police officers in Pai detained a 58 year old Japanese woman and charged her
with stealing a wristwatch from an unsuspecting Thai national while he was
enjoying an afternoon swim with his family at the Thapai Hot Springs.
Mr. Phuchong Ruakaew, 48, of Tambon Sobpong in Mae Hong Son province told
police that his watch had been stolen by a Japanese tourist when he had
removed it and placed in his shoulder bag while he went in for a swim.
He told officers that before the theft he sat on a bench waiting for his
relatives who were swimming when a Japanese female ask to sit with him. The
victim then removed his ring and watch and put them in his shoulder bag
along with his wallet and went for a swim. Soon afterwards the Japanese lady
got up and left.
When one of Mr. Ruakaew relatives noticed that the shoulder bag had been
untied he went in pursuit of the woman and called out to the guards not to
let her motorcycle out, but the woman refused to stop. The guards gave chase
and radioed police officers who managed to apprehend her at a Pai resort.
Police officers invited her for questioning at Pai Police Station.
The woman was identified as Mrs. Yuriko Nariyama and a resident of Kobe,
Japan and had been staying at house on Khlong Chon Prathan Road, Chiang Mai
where she had lived for two years. Initially she denied any wrongdoing, but
during a search the police discovered the missing wristwatch in her pants
Cabinet bans cell phone use while driving
In an attempt to reduce road accidents resulting from the
use of mobile phones by motorists, Thailand’s cabinet approved in principle
a ban on the use of cell phones and other communications equipment by
motorists while they are driving, according to a government spokesman.
However, motorists are allowed to use hands-free communications equipment,
The green light on the issue was made by the Cabinet following a proposal by
the National Police Bureau.
Exceptions will be given, however, to the drivers of police, military,
ambulance and private rescue foundation vehicles, the spokesman said. TNA
Border patrol stumbles across marijuana plantation
About 300 kilos of marijuana
destined for sale in the Pai area was destroyed on July 9 by border patrol
officers of the 336th Mekong base.
Border Patrol Officers of the 336th Mekong Base on routine patrol came
across a relatively large marijuana plantation in the area of Yod Kho Sung
on Doi Huay Hway, Amphur Pai. According to the authorities the pot was being
grown for sale to tourists Pai.
Police Major Piyaphongs Chivachanaphorn, Commander of the 336th Mekong Base
Division, stated the plantation covered an area of about 1 rai and the
illegal plants were ready to be harvested.
The Commander ordered the removal of the marijuana which weighed in at about
Many hilltribe villages around the mountainous areas of Amphur Pai and
Amphur Pang Mapha are known for growing marijuana and poppy which is then
sold to tourists who visit Pai.
Thai children unmask the stigma of living with HIV/AIDS
On a stage inside Chiang Mai University’s Art Museum, children donned masks
in order to enact a play entitled, ‘Who am I? Why am I here?’ The drama,
which was performed before a standing room-only audience, gave voice to the
pain, fears and hopes the young actors have as children living with HIV/AIDS
“Do we dare take off our masks?” one of the youths asked the other 24
children sharing the stage. “Don’t you know what people will do to us if
they know who we are – what we have? We are not living with a terrible
illness, but we are living in a terrible world.”
The show marked the children’s eighth performance and the one-year
anniversary of the first staging of the play in Thailand. ‘Who am I? Why am
I here?’ is part of an ongoing project to promote creative activities for
some 400 Thai children between the ages of 10 and 16 who are living with
Initiated in 2003, the UNICEF-supported project is run by the We Understand
Group, a non-governmental organization. The program uses drawing, painting,
photography and drama to build children’s confidence and help them overcome
the discrimination they face in their daily lives.
“People in this society still don’t understand enough about HIV/AIDS,” says
the Project Coordinator for We Understand, Chutima Saisengjan. “Children
living with HIV/AIDS still suffer greatly from discrimination due to this
lack of understanding. We found that the arts could be used to address
Ms. Saisengjan has seen marked changes in the children’s behavior as the
project has progressed. The young actors’ growing confidence is reflected by
the way in which they now end the play. While many of the children were
reluctant to remove their masks in earlier performances, they now take them
off without hesitation and face the audience, ready to answer any questions
that they pose.
“I feel that I love myself more,” says Aom, 15. “In the past, I didn’t even
want to wake up; I didn’t want to meet anyone. But now I can see my value. I
am encouraged every time I hear the audience applaud.”
In May 2006, the children performed in Bangkok for Nane Annan and other
high-level officials and dignitaries. Ms. Annan was so moved by the
performance that she arranged for a film of the play to be screened at the
XVI International AIDS conference in Toronto last year. In addition to the
play, the conference screened another film entitled ‘The Sea Has a Secret’,
which features the children’s voices and art work.
This month the children will stage their final performance of the drama for
the Prime Minister of Thailand, General Surayud Julanont, at the National
AIDS Conference in Bangkok. Next year, the project will expand to reach 90
more children across the country.
“They have proven that they can do it,” says the children’s drama teacher,
Panda Thapanangkun. “HIV/AIDS is not an obstacle to learning. Instead, the
pressures they feel in their lives are motivating them to communicate with
Article reprinted with permission from UNICEF.